An Idiots Guide To The First Six Rolling Stones Albums 

Five_by_five Rolling Stones

Or, part one of a quest to discover whether it’s worth buying those early Stones albums on vinyl…

We were in the pub.

The conversation, a couple of hours in, had turned to how the skeleton of a dinosaur would no longer be displayed in the Natural History Museum.

I know what you’re thinking. Some of our discussions can be pretty scintillating, nay, sparkling at times…

Chris said, “They effectively expired years ago. They might have dominated the whole planet, lumbering across the globe, but they’ve had their day. No-one really cares.”

I nodded agreement.

“And it’s all because of punk, in my view.”

To be honest, I’d just come back from the Gents. I reasoned I must have missed something, but couldn’t grasp what.

“Punk rock killed off Diplodocus? What are you on about?”

My friends rolled their eyes.

“We’ve moved on to The Rolling Stones…” Chris explained patiently.

“But how did the conversation move from…” I stopped myself. Even Watson on an off-day would have deduced that one. “Ah. Yes. Quite.”

Chris isn’t a big fan of The Rolling Stones.

“They’ve effectively released four good albums and a few singles, and nothing much good since 1972” he ventured.

I looked pained. Disgraceful views. I knew what he meant though. Those four albums: Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street were stone cold classics. Aside from a couple of best-ofs, those were the only four Stones albums I  actually owned, at least on vinyl. But when was the last time I played any of their early albums? Maybe never? I tried to smoke him out.

“What about those early R&B albums? They’re classics too!”

“Really? Have you even heard them? When was the last time you played any of them?!” challenged Chris “The early albums were all Chuck Berry covers, and then they did a couple of dodgy psychedelic albums that no-one ever listens to”.

“That can’t be true” I reasoned “The Rolling Stones were one of the two biggest bands on the planet in the sixties. They didn’t get there by being just a singles band.”

A quick straw poll found that none of us had actually listened to many of the Rolling Stones’ first six albums more than once, and some not at all.

“OK then, I think we have a new challenge for you then” smiled Chris. “We’ll take it as red that you can find all the albums for, say, less than a hundred quid. That’s one part. The other, more difficult part, is to find reasons why anyone should bother. Find the albums, listen to them, and then come back here and tell us why they aren’t just full of rubbish Chuck Berry covers.”

“OK. But as it’s your challenge, you have to pay a forfeit if you’re wrong.”

“And you do too…”

“No. If the albums are rubbish, then my forfeit is that I’ll have spent a lot of money on six terrible albums. Your forfeit if they turn out to be good, is that you’ll have to write a letter of apology to the band, and post it to them.”

Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.

So off I went to some record fairs. I found the records. And I listened to The Rolling Stones with fresh ears. This was a band whose early records I hadn’t, until now, paid much attention to. And I discovered some interesting things about those first six UK albums, which are:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Rolling Stones No 2
  • Out of Our Heads
  • Aftermath
  • Between The Buttons
  • Their Satanic Majesties Request.

And in the next six posts, I’ll tell you about them. And we’ll also find out if they really are a bit rubbish, or if Chris needs to write his letter of apology…

Categories: Rock Music

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28 replies

  1. The Brian Jones era Stones would be my favourite incarnation of the band by far. Though I love most of their tracks right up to Exile, I have always thought that Brian added a particularly special touch, with him being a spectacular slide guitarist, and not to even mention his multi-instrumental abilities! So the first six albums (+ Beggars) are definitely my favourites of The Stones. I am very much looking forward to your next six posts! 🙂


  2. Really looking forward to these, I love your challenges. Between the Buttons is a favourite of mine.


  3. Their Satanic Majesties Request is pretty divisive. Good luck with that one!


  4. Although I’d initially overlooked a lot of the earlier Stones albums, Aftermath and Their Satanic Majesties Request have both become essentials – looking forward to reading your thoughts on them.


  5. Have fun. Looking forward to reading.


  6. Looking forward to this series. Good on you for trying them out, I’ll be following along for sure. Fair warning: no matter what your friend says, there are lots of us out here that still listen to the Stones – yes, even the records he thinks no one cares about. We’re all entitled to our opinions, after all. And myself, I’m a life-long fan. If he doesn’t want them, more for us.

    Good luck in your experimenting!


  7. Wow. You’re willing to go there with Satanic Majesties Request.

    Just kidding. I’ve actually listened to that one and found it to not be as off-putting as many have suggested. I think the key is to consider outside of the context of Sgt. Pepper.

    I’ve had a love/love-not relationship with the Stones’ music, so I have to admit being more of your friend Chris’ mind. When I first began exploring the classics when I was 12, I was really into them. As time went on, not so much. But, I respect the work they did on their big four. “Bitch” is one of my “jukebox songs.” And I consider “Emotional Rescue” an irresistible guilty pleasure.

    BTW, Keith looks so innocent in the photo.


  8. The easy option (which I took) is to buy the “Rolled Gold” best of.


    • A great compilation and very comprehensive, which I originally owned on cassette. The vinyl enthusiast in me prefers the two sixties compilations “Big Hits and Green Grass” and “Through The Past Darkly” for a great selection of songs and nice packaging.


  9. Rolled Gold is a great place to start, similar to the red/blue Bealtes albums but then…….you start buying all the individual albums to see what you are missing.


  10. Funny that I was penning (in an aside) about my own distaste for the Stones that you were embarking on this undertaking. While I think I pretty much agree with your friend Chris (maybe there are two C90s worth of material) I’ve always enjoyed the first couple of records even if they sound incredibly, well, white.


  11. I’m with Chris on this one. I recently picked up 4 of the US early albums and found the “rubbish Chuck Berry covers” to be an apt description.


  12. Their Satanic Majesties Request is a fantastic album. Sure, it’s quite different from both the Stones’ earlier work and the classic albums that came after, but it’s filled with great tracks. Really curious to see how you judge it.



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